A lot of blogs have themes to them on a certain day. This blog is devoted to women – encouraging one another in life, whether through humor, pain, similar paths, or walking the journey together. I am commiting to feature “Women of Influence” periodically, women who have made a lasting contribution to my life. I want to share not only the women who have influenced my journey, but why.
Featured Woman – Arlene Lazzaro
Arlene Lazzaro is a woman who raised four daughters. Just for that, she deserves an honor. I only have one to raise, and after surviving the moody teen years, I am thankful only testosterone is ahead with the next three rug rats. Raising four daughters was not simple for Arlene. But she did her best in raising strong, independent women.
Arlene went to college when most women were husband shopping in school, and became a teacher, an honorable profession for women in the 1950’s. She met her husband on a blind date and six months later they were married. They were truly in love.
This is another legacy she left her daughters – the love she has for her husband, Carl. Carl was the son of an Italian immigrant back in the days when Catholics and Protestants didn’t mix. Carl left his faith to become a Protestant, and has been a faithful husband, known today for calling Arlene his “mistress” and other flirty things. They still dance together if they have the chance, and spend time in the car just laughing. True love.
Arlene modeled balanced womanhood for her daughters. She stayed at home with her children while they were young, but resumed her teaching career in her early 40’s and taught second grade until retirement – over twenty years influencing countless children. She also was the first (and only) woman to serve as Town Board President (AKA Mayor) of her little hometown. She does not sit around and gossip or complain about things she can change. She gets involved.
Arlene also has a core group of faithful friends who love her. She is a friend who is loyal and caring, and her friends are loyal back. She is rich in the friendships she has formed.
I have the privilege of being one of Arlene’s daughters, the youngest in fact. In recent years raising my own teenage daughter, my appreciation for my mother has increased. As I reflect how she has imprinted on my life, here are the standouts:
- Love your husband first. I remember as a child my mom saying, “I love your dad more than I love you girls.” I don’t recall my age, but I remember being horribly offended. But there was security in that statement. I recently traveled with my parents, and I was blessed by watching them. They still care for one another, flirt, and put each other first after 50 years. What an example.
- Balance career and family. My mom is not a deeply philosophical person, and didn’t verbally instruct me on womanhood. She stayed home for 14 years raising us girls, doing the typical 1960’s Tupperware party/rollers-in-hair-at-the-grocery-store life for a homemaker at the time. While younger women were burning their bras and protesting, she was a stay-at-home mom. She had a college education, yet saw the value in being the caretaker of her little ones. She didn’t preach it, but it made a lasting impression on me.
- There is time for a career. Being the youngest, most of my memories of my mom are of her teaching, getting her Master’s Degree, being Town Board President, and serving on a multitude of committees in the community. She began all of this when I entered the second grade, and she had a full-filling career as a teacher well into her sixties. She is now in her mid-seventies, still serving her church and leading other women in bible studies. She modeled “Life Begins at…..40+” That’s encouraging, now I am there!
- Woman can be strong and independent. This is one of the things I love about my mom. She was strong, yet never took strength away from my dad. She had to be strong to raise four girls, I know it wasn’t easy for her. She raised us girls to do our best, value education, and also made sure we knew how to change a tire when we graduated from college. That’s cool.
- Friends with other women are important. This is something I highly value at my stage in life. I am blessed with several “forever friends” and I have seen this modeled in my mother’s life. Her friends are the coolest people. They are loyal and loving, people she can be real with. My mom’s not fake. That’s another thing I like. What you see is what you get. And her friends are also true.